No Charge, Tremendous Value: How Neutrons Probe Hidden Behaviors of Matter

Hans Christen, Neutron Scattering Division Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN


Neutrons, photons, and electrons are the three most common probes used to determine the structure and dynamics of materials. So, what is the advantage of using neutrons? In this presentation, I will describe how and why neutrons are used to understand topics as diverse as Li-ion conductivity in battery materials for electronic devices and electric vehicles, strain evolution in 3D-printed structures, the binding between drug molecules and proteins, heat transport in thermoelectric materials, and magnetic excitations in quantum materials that may someday be used for advanced computers. I’ll show examples from the two neutron sources at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), and I’ll describe the different characteristics of each source.

 Biographical Sketch:

Hans Christen is the Director of the Neutron Scattering Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Physics in Lausanne, Switzerland, followed by a post-doctoral appointment at ORNL, before working on the development of scientific equipment at a start-up company. He joined ORNL as a staff member in 2000 to perform research in epitaxial complex oxides, and successively held various leadership positions, including as Director of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), before accepting his current position in 2018. 

Hans Christen